March 2024

A Message From Our PPAMidwest President......


PPAMidwest Members,


We are MARCHing forward towards Spring at PPAMidwest, but also taking a quick moment to look back at our history. 

As I’m sure you all know, March is Women’s History Month. It’s the perfect time to look back and honor the contributions that women have made to bring us to where we are now. The history of PPAMidwest is rich with the presence of strong women leaders. Did you know that 20 amazing women have led our regional association as President? Starting with the first female President, Melody Gonterman, back in 1970 and continuing through the years while the association changed names, evolved into new territories and advanced the needs of our industry. While it is difficult to select one to spotlight this month, I offer a quick history lesson on the 2nd woman to lead our association. PPAI Hall of Fame member Lorraine Hempen, CAS was President of PPAM back in 1976, when it was called the St. Louis Advertising Specialty Association. Lorraine worked for the same supplier, the now defunct Joseph Lipic Pen Company, for 55 years, starting in 1947 until they closed in 2002! She recalled her first exhibitor show when distributors were surprised to even see a woman in the room. Lorraine went on to serve on the PPAI Board and was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004. Sadly, she passed in 2018 at the age of 87, but today we take a quick moment to honor her legacy and the legacy of all women who helped our association, and our industry, become what it is today. Thanks Lorraine for your service and thanks to every woman out there fighting to make a difference.

And now to the future. March is show month folks! I hope you are excited for the Spring Product Premieres this month. Registration is open now.

Don’t forget to mark your calendars:

  • Spring Product Premiere on 3/26 in St. Louis and 3/28 in KC. Registration is open now.
  • Watch for the 1st Annual PPAMidwest Jay Shucart Memorial Golf Tournament coming to St. Louis in June, as well as our annual golf tournament in KC. Registrations are limited and will be opening soon

Let’s MARCH forward together, while honoring the history behind us. As always please reach out directly to me with your comments, questions, or just to chat. I can be reached via email at [email protected]

Yours in Service,

Dennis Oglesby, MAS

2024 PPAMidwest President

March 12, 2024 Tuesday Learning Lab: "Targeted Sales Solutions” 

In this webinar, as distributors in the promotional products arena, you’ll learn how to improve your new business development techniques to increase your productivity with improved sales techniques, approaches, and processes. 


Learning Outcomes:

  • Sales 101...It's truly a numbers game...
  • The personal touch ALWAYS PREVAILS...
  • It's all about building trust to become an invaluable resource for you client...
  • Relationships - "interactions" vs "transactions" and how to stay relevant...

Read more and register

Register today to attend our upcoming Spring Product Premiere!


This show is the COMPLETE promotional products experience featuring

the most professional Suppliers and Distributors in the industry.

The PPAMidwest Spring Product Premiere is one of the best opportunities

to connect with top Suppliers and Multi-line Reps. Designed for industry

veterans and newcomers alike, this show delivers quality and more of what

you are looking for to boost your business as we enter the 2nd quarter.

For event details, click here

Distributors ~ Register to attend HERE

March 27, 2024 Wild Wednesday Webinar: “Level Up Your Marketing in 2024!” 

The always popular Ms. Charity Gibson is back with valuable industry advice on how to level up your marketing efforts thereby increasing your sales. Practical industry advice that works and can work for you! Tune in as Charity shares her special brand of knowledge delivered as only, she can!


Learning Outcomes:

  • What you can do to level up your marketing efforts in 2024
  • Best ways to use these tips to position your business for success
  • Practical advice on how to best market your business

Read more and register

2 Great Cities/2 Great Shows!

These end user friendly tabletop shows will once again be at two fun

and unique locations that you and your customers are sure to love!

Our annual Fall Holiday Showcase will be held in Kansas City on 10/8/24 and then in

St. Louis on 10/10/24. We will also be hosting a social on 10/9/24 in St. Louis.

PPAMidwest News

Maple Ridge Farms Receives Shining Star Award for 2023 United Way Campaign

Mosinee, WI United Way of Marathon County has recognized Maple Ridge Farms with a Shining Star award for its 2023 United Way campaign. Shining Stars are awarded to companies whose employees ran campaigns that have shown participation growth, leadership growth, overall dollars raised, corporate gifts, and volunteerism as true advocates for United Way.

Maple Ridge Farms’ 2023 campaign included many different activities in which employees could participate, including a visiting gelato cart, a white elephant sale, and the crowd-pleasing raffle for department-created gift baskets, coveted parking places, and other prizes. The campaign raised a total of $8,911 to benefit United Way of Marathon County, an increase of 5% over 2022’s campaign.

In receiving this award, Maple Ridge Farms campaign manager, Shana Gardner, remarked: “We are proud to partner with United Way of Marathon County. Our dedicated committee is always diligently looking for ways to add opportunities for team members to participate and contribute, and it’s an honor to be recognized for those efforts. We plan to add more events throughout 2024 and are excited to continue to develop and grow our support.”

PPAMidwest Members....You and your family members have access to a

$1,250 One Year Scholarship funded by special events and activities

brought to you by your PPAMidwest Board of Directors

But HURRY as time is running out to apply as the deadline is March 15th!

PPAMidwest has partnered with PPEF to offer a one year, $1,250 scholarship to all staff of PPAMidwest member companies or their children who are high school seniors or college undergraduates. PPEF takes all of the applications, reviews, verifies, and makes a recommendation for a recipient.

Why PPEF? The Promotional Products Education Foundation is an industry-based educational, charitable, and nonprofit organization.  PPEF awards college scholarships to students who have a parent working in the promotional products industry or who are working for a company in the industry. 

Applications for the 2024-2025 academic school year are now available.

Deadline to submit is March 15, 2024.

Apply today at

AAkron Line Named Exclusive Supplier of A.T. Cross

Providence, RI AAkron Rule Corporation, a pioneering force in the promotional products industry, recently announced that they have been named the key Supplier partner of A.T. Cross Writing Instruments. This strategic collaboration solidifies AAkron’s commitment to providing top-tier offerings in the promotional products sector. While A.T. Cross will continue its in-house decoration processes as well, AAkron will serve as the primary channel for distribution, enhancing accessibility to A.T. Cross writing instruments for businesses in the promotional products market.

Stan Dohan, MAS, MASI, AAkron Executive Vice President adds, “A.T. Cross is an iconic writing instrument brand, and the gold standard in pens for over 150 years. We are so excited to exclusively represent Cross in the promotional products industry. We cannot be more pleased to have the opportunity to add our award-winning, decorating, full color, and laser engraving to deliver a premium, packaged writing instrument line for our valued distributor customers.”

“A.T. Cross is excited to partner with AAkron and their experienced professional team. Our two companies share a common goal in delivering the highest quality products combined with exemplary service,” adds Andrew Boss, A.T. Cross North American Sales Manager.

ASB Hires Gordon Klepec as Regional VP of Strategic Operations Support

Glenwood, MN American Solutions for Business welcomes Gordon Klepec Regional VP of Strategic Operations Support (SOS).


In this role, Klepec will be responsible for supporting ASB sales associates in business development and strategic sales opportunities. He will work on a regional and national level to help qualify opportunities, prepare for large customer presentations, provide consultation in business planning, prospect planning and more.  


"I’m very happy to have Gordon on our team,” shares Amy Spychalla, VP of Strategic Operations Support. “Gordon understands our industry from many different angles and will bring a fresh perspective to help ASB and all our stakeholders grow to the next level.”


Klepec was most recently Chief Sales Officer for distributor, SOLV for the last four years and was the VP of Sales and Marketing for print supplier, Wright Business Graphics, from 2006 to 2020.


“I’m excited for my new role and having the awesome opportunity to work for American,” says Klepec. “I’ve always had the greatest respect for ASB, its leadership and associates. Everyone is always authentic, professional, and easy to work with. It feels as though this role at American was designed for me and my skillset. I have an extensive knowledge of printed products, electronic solutions, eCommerce platforms and now, with my last 4 years running a $10 million distributorship, an intimate knowledge of promo and apparel. I look forward to working with American’s sales associates, experienced and novice, to help them grow their business and close some deals!”  

Want to earn points and join in on the fun?

Simply complete the easy request form to have your points credited

for the activities you participate in. For live events and activities, your attendance will automatically be recorded and points assigned, provided you are an active member of PPAMidwest. For recorded webinars, referrals and completion of PPAI Certifications or renewals, simply complete the easy request form to have your points credited.

It is that simple! (click on above image for more information).

Boundless Names New CEO

Austin, TX – Boundless recently announced that it has a new CEO: Aaron Hamer.

Hamer is an experienced executive with a background in private equity, investment banking and C-Suite corporate leadership and finance. He’s been an operating partner at Treaty Oak, one of two private investment firms that acquired Boundless in 2021. As such, Hamer has already been working with the Boundless team for several years on growth and transformation initiatives.

“I am really excited about our opportunity to deliver on our vision of being ‘the best home for the best salespeople in the industry,’” Hamer said. “We are making significant investments in technology, team and capabilities that will make that vision a reality. Boundless is such an incredible business with an infectious culture; it is exactly the kind of business anyone would be lucky to lead, as there are exceptional people working together to do incredible things.”

Former CEO Dave Klotter, who was appointed in July 2022, is no longer with the company. “I am really thankful for Dave’s leadership and the mark he’s left on Boundless,” Hamer said.

Industry News

20th Anniversary of WLC in Nashville

June 23-25, 2024 ~ Nashville, TN

WLC is Headed to Nashville!


Music City will host the PPAI Women’s Leadership Conference in 2024 where attendees will celebrate 20 years of empowering women leaders. WLC is one of the promo industry’s most pivotal events of the year. Women, in every stage of their career, gather to share empowering business advice, triumphs and their hopes for the future.

WLC is designed to equip you with the knowledge and resources needed to thrive in today's constantly evolving business landscape.

  • Captivating keynote speakers
  • Interactive roundtables
  • Influential women-led panel discussions
  • Life-changing connections 

Explore a variety of resources aimed at personal and professional growth, encouraging you to challenge your perspectives and find practical insights for your career journey.

View the Conference Outline Here

7 Proven Ways to Reduce Wasted Time in Your Daily Life

Chad Willardson  Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor Founder & President of Pacific Capital

Here are seven tried-and-true strategies you can use to reduce wasted time in your life starting now!

In today's fast-paced world, time is your most precious asset, yet it's alarming to realize how much of that we devalue. Did you know that the average American dedicates 6-8 hours daily to their phones and TV? That's almost a full 120 days per year! This underscores how easy it is to squander our attention.

Life is too short, and your relationships are too valuable to spend one-third of it looking at screens. Drawing from my personal experiences, this article explores seven ways to minimize wasted time, leading to a more fulfilling life.

Read More

Augmented Reality and Promo

PPAI Newslink

Does Augmented Reality Have A Future In Promo?

Virtual reality has been teased as the future of human leisure since the days of The Jetsons. Now that we have caught up to that future, and VR headsets are available for purchase, the general public seems to have mixed feelings. Some people want to try out the experience for curiosity’s sake and while others judge or poke fun at anyone willing to pay large sums of money to wear the not-so-subtle gadget.

That dynamic was on display upon the release of the highly anticipated Apple Vision Pro last month, with public responses including quite a bit of negative or embarrassing press.

This leaves some promo suppliers in a quandary. Will VR equipment represent a future opportunity for high-end promo or is it an expensive fad? Some suggest that being prepared to offer branded VR options is a way to cater to a generation that will only grow in influence.

Read More

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